We just returned from a wonderful weekend at The Next Edge Festival in Montreal.

The Next Edge Network first came into being as an underground online group started in 2011, when Venessa Miemis asked the simple question, “What is the next edge?”. The starter idea was to create, in the words of David Hodgson, “a container for those of us creating and embodying the new paradigms of being and doing as a response to the systemic challenges we face in the 21st Century”. It has since grown organically into a thriving virtual community of 3000+ Edglings in an “emergent by design” fashion, attracting a diversity of future-oriented thinkers and pioneering changemakers coming together to share, ask probing questions, and riff off each other’s inspiring ideas.

This year’s festival was the first time this network came together in person, and we spent the time exploring  the question, “what can we create by joining forces?” While there is no concrete answer to this inquiry yet, we here at Round Sky have offered to use the collaborative processes we’ve developed to help the Next Edge network answer and evolve this question for itself.

The tremendous value in creating an explicit, minimally sufficient answer to our purpose, eg “what could we create in the world by joining forces?” is that it enables us to collectively and concretely manifest our next edge. Within a clear and compelling purpose, we can self organize much more concretely, much sooner, and with much more alignment with our expressed values. The development of a purpose acts like a ‘strange attractor’ in complex emergent systems, systems like networks of interest, enabling the juicy chaos of emergence to crystalize into powerful effective action.

While creating space for connecting with others around the issues and questions of leadership and organizing in our time is pushing an important edge in itself, the difficulty is that without an explicit and collectively evolved purpose, the conversations often lack traction, or splinter us off into small groups with the will to do something anyways. The end result is that the power of our collective traction is reduced, with potent ideas and possibilities simply left to moulder without collective support, or our emerging container splintered into micronized efforts.

An explicit, collectively evolved purpose can provide us with a minimally sufficient container within which self organization can flourish with the use of collaborative processes and tools.

Check out this TED talk by a fellow next edger, Michelle Holiday, as she describes the processes at the heart of living systems which give us key guidance for being able to create effective shared action.

We are all part of a global network, now more than anytime before. When we come together it helps us to see ourselves and our work as an integral part of this network, and to build upon these experiences with all of our unique and diverse needs and experiences in mind.

But to build new models that actually move us toward a just, resilient, sustainable future we have to collaborate, and doing so intentionally and efficiently is what we are all about.

What is the next edge about for you?